Having to live in the city for the most part of my teenage and adult life, I have seen almost all kinds of underprivileged people, from beggars, homeless, to street children, begging for food, money, even water, knocking cars, selling flowers. It's always terrible to see this kind of scene when I go out to the street, my heart always torn with mercy.
But as time progresses, just like the rest of the people in the city, I began to feel annoyance, not because, I am selfish to share what I have, but because some of them looked able enough to make a living rather than beg for money. My heart eventually hardened.
However, when Pope Francis came to visit the Philippines, he showed the other side of mercy and compassion, he exhibited how a true Christian should act and hear the cry of the underprivileged and the abandoned. Watching the Pope hugged children, showed compassion to the poor and proclaimed the basic responsibility of Catholics to the community made me to reassess my life and my mission as a human being.
Eventually, the inspiration I got from the Roman Pontiff softened my heart again. Although sometimes I wanted to turn my back of giving alms because of the common belief in the city that most of them are being used by some powerful syndicated groups to beg money in the street, I tried listening to my conscience.
Pope Francis during the Holy Mass he celebrated at the University of Sto. Tomas
where he was touched with the stories of three homeless children
He later hugged the children
One weekend, while on my way to MRT station, I dropped by at a food stall to buy something to eat, later, two street children dashed in front of me and asked for food. I stopped for a while then looked at them in the eyes. I saw a different flicker from their gaze. They genuinely needed someone to help them, to give them food, to show mercy.
I smiled and tapped them on the shoulder, pulled my wallet and asked the lady in the counter to give them food and I will pay it. The two kids excitedly grabbed the food and started eating. I went to them and talked, asked where they lived, their parents and what they do for a living. They responded that they came from Laguna and just rode the bus to where it would lead them to sell Sampaguita flowers.
I stayed while they ate, talked for a while then asked some more questions. I also told them to attend a church service, always pray and be good. They smiled and we both got up and walked to the MRT ticket booth. They thanked me for the breakfast I had given, then we separated.
While walking to the MRT station's platform, I could not help but felt so emotional. Those kids needed help, they are wounded with the social injustices in the environment and yet people who are so blessed in life refused to provide cure with this societal illness. They have nothing to eat and that's for sure, but we often turn our back to them, refusing to give what we have. Pope Francis is right, we refused to listen to the cry of the poor which makes this world a very harsh place for underprivileged and the homeless.
We can make a difference. It's not too late. We can help this world a better place to live in by extending what we can offer to the less fortunate. We will extend what help we can provide, not because we have something to give, but because we know how it felt if we also have nothing.
If you can no longer find any mercy and compassion in your heart because it is already hardened with the worsening economic and political conditions in our country, stop for a while and look straight to the eyes of the street children and the homeless, you will discover a different compassion you never knew existed in your heart.